Van Persie and Rooney turn it on after power goes down in Braga
Manchester Utd 3 SC Braga 1: This was not one of Manchester United’s brightest European displays, even before a power cut plunged the stadium into darkness and forced the players off the pitch for 10 minutes in the second half. They were already a goal down at that point thanks to Alan’s penalty at the start of the second period, and until going behind had never managed to cause any serious problems for the Braga defence.
Only when United brought Robin van Persie on and reverted to something like their usual attacking set-up did the goals to win the match arrive in the final 10 minutes.
Surprisingly, in view of the fact that he blamed a lack of width for United conceding two early goals in the home fixture, Alex Ferguson went narrow again, with only Nani used as a winger.
Ryan Giggs operated behind Wayne Rooney in central midfield, while Antonio Valencia found himself pressed into service at right back.
Content to let United retain possession and slow the pace of the game, Braga seemed strangely subdued at first. Even when an early mistake from Jonny Evans let Eder in behind him, the striker rolled the ball tamely across goal.
Ruben Micael went close again midway through the first half, almost taking advantage of Chris Smalling temporarily leaving the field for treatment while Giggs stood in as emergency centre back.
Smalling was back by the time Braga gave United a warning by hitting a post, once again showing their ability to cross quickly and accurately. Hugo Viana put in a low cross, Eder met it perfectly with a diving header and David de Gea must have been relieved to see the ball come back into play off his right-hand upright.
While Braga did not create anything quite as clear-cut in the minutes before half-time they continued to look the side most likely to open the scoring.
And United have often come to grief in the past when trying to play defensively. Belatedly, they brought on van Persie for the last half hour, though by then Braga had something to try and hang on to and were playing with confidence.
The character of the game changed when Braga were awarded a penalty at the beginning of the second half. Evans did little more than stand his ground to sent Custodio flying,and Alan blasted his side into the lead from the spot.
Shortly after Danny Welbeck had wasted some excellent right wing work by Valencia by controlling the cross with his hand, the lights went out with 57 minutes played. Seven minutes after the restart following the blackout, the Dutchman appeared for the ineffective Welbeck.
When Rooney spotted the Braga goalkeeper off his line 10 minutes from the end and found Van Persie, the equaliser was soon delivered, quickly followed by the winner when Rooney was tripped in the box.
Javier Hernandez saw a shot blocked and Rooney was impeded as he went for the rebound. He took the penalty himself, after missing one at the weekend, and calmly ensured his side’s progression. Hernandez added the third after a scramble in injury- time.